The art of the manager has become underappreciated in the wrestling world. Not every talent can cut the best promos or bring the character work that can captivate an audience. Managers have been around for years and are supposed to make up for any weaknesses a performer has. There are various forms of managers. Most large wrestlers struggle with talking or showing charisma. Various managers have been given the task of cutting promos for them. A cowardly personality having an intimidating wrestler doing the physical work to allow them to run their mouth just makes sense on both sides for each performer.
There are also valets. Many of the most charismatic women in the business have not been gifted with the athletic ability to bring it in the ring. Romantic storylines or traditional manager roles have given them the role of helping wrestlers in need of an extra oomph to get over with the audience. Sadly, not all combinations can work out. Much like any other pairing in wrestling, a wrestler and manager have to be on the same page and show chemistry. We have seen many tales of entertaining managers outshining or overpowering the in-ring performer. Let’s take a look at the most memorable occasions with the top 15 times a manager stole the thunder of a wrestler.
15 15. Paul Heyman and Ryback
WWE had high hopes for Ryback and the debut of his character led to an undefeated streak. The dream was for Ryback to become a beloved babyface and the face of the company by this time. Instead, he has failed constantly to the point of requesting his release. Ryback’s first big character change came when he turned heel by attacking CM Punk and aligning with Paul Heyman. WWE started selling “Paul Heyman Guy” t-shirts and his value skyrocketed as a manager.
14 14. Paul Ellering And The Authors Of Pain
A recent instance of a manager stealing the thunder of wrestlers would be NXT’s introduction of The Authors of Pain. The two physically intimidating beasts dominated Chad Gable and Jason Jordan to the dismay of the crowd. Instead of the action being the main story, legendary manager Paul Ellering made his way to the ramp to show he was aligned with the new duo. Ellering is most known for managing The Legion of Doom, regarded as the best tag team of all time.
13 13. Lana and Dolph Ziggler
WWE rarely does romantic storylines right and it often turns into a huge mess. The perfect example of this was the 2015 storyline between Rusev, Lana, Dolph Ziggler and Summer Rae. Lana turned face by ditching her boyfriend Rusev and standing up for herself. Things took a big turn when she started dating and managing Ziggler. The pairing had as much chemistry as a marching band and a library. Lana looked foolish in denim jean jackets, but still was the star of the duo.
12 12. Jim Cornette and Dan Severn
Dan Severn made history in the 90s as the first and only man to hold World Championships in both pro wrestling and UFC. The legitimate MMA fighter tried his hand at pro wrestling and achieved moderate success. Severn captured the NWA Championship and made his WWE debut as part of a forgettable invasion angle. The NWA talent feuded with WWE lower card acts and became an afterthought during The Attitude Era.
11 11. Bobby Heenan and Lex Luger
The debut of Lex Luger in the WWE came with great hype after years of main event work in WCW. WWE hoped Luger would become a major player in the future of the company. Luger’s introduction came with Bobby Heenan unveiling him as “The Narcissist.” Heenan talked about how great Luger was while Luger stared into a mirror flexing and admiring himself. The promo work from Heenan was so entertaining that it stole the segment.
10 10. Torrie Wilson and Carlito
Torrie Wilson was a hot commodity and held value in the WWE, but she just couldn’t wrestle. Wilson has admitted she wasn’t good at wrestling and preferred to do anything but have matches. WWE struggled to find roles for her and at one point made her the manager of Carlito. Things were trending downwards for Carlito after declining and showing little of the potential he once held. Many criticized Carlito for being lazy and having no motivation, so adding a valet was the way to humble him.
9 9. Zeb Colter and Alberto Del Rio
The return of Alberto Del Rio in 2015 was a huge moment for the WWE. Del Rio saw his contract terminated for slapping a backstage employee who made racially insensitive comments about him. WWE brought him back with a big contract and had him cleanly defeat John Cena to win the United States Championship. Things appeared to be going perfectly for Del Rio, but having Zeb Colter as his manager damaged his chances at success.
8 8. Maryse and Ted DiBiase Jr.
WWE had high expectations for Ted DiBiase Jr. to follow in the footsteps of his father, as one of the top stars in the company. DiBiase Jr. played a huge role in the Legacy stable with Randy Orton and Cody Rhodes gaining him credibility. The company hoped he would be the breakout star following the breaking up of the faction, but their wishes would not be fulfilled.
7 7. Ric Flair and Charlotte
Charlotte is one of the better women’s wrestling stars in recent memory with unbelievable athleticism and a star quality. She just happens to be the daughter of Ric Flair and that can actually hurt her at times. WWE offering her an opportunity as the daughter of a legendary performer was a positive, but getting paired with him on television proved negatives were associated with the relationship as well.
6 6. Jimmy Hart and Meng
Jimmy Hart is typically remembered for his association with Hulk Hogan, but he was a talented manager without the star power backing him up. Hart arrived in WCW with Hogan, but moved on to other wrestlers who were also in need of a manager. The Giant benefited from Hart doing all of the talking, but that didn’t work for all of the wrestlers. Meng specifically saw his potential squandered in WCW despite having Hart by his side.
5 5. Stacy Keibler and Scott Steiner
Scott Steiner became one of the final singles main event stars created in WCW before the company was bought by Vince McMahon. The value for Big Poppa Pump was at an all-time high and he signed for big money with the WWE. Steiner instantly flopped during a horrendous feud with Triple H, but still held some potential as an upper mid-card face. WWE aligned him with manager Stacy Keibler during a feud with her jealous ex-boyfriend Test.
4 4. Jim Cornette and Vader
One of the manager/wrestling relationships that should have been perfect was Jim Cornette and Vader. Cornette was one of the greatest managers of all time and possessed a natural heel personality that many would trade an arm for. Vader was one of the most intense and entertaining big men in the ring, but lacked the microphone skills to be the kind of all-around performer WWE wants out of their talents. They were put together to make Vader a star, but it just didn’t work.
3 3. James Mitchell and Judas Mesias
James Mitchell is perhaps the most underrated wrestling manager of the past twenty years. Despite never working for the WWE, Mitchell found a way to create a legacy helping wrestlers in need of a strong personality. His body of work in ECW and TNA made Mitchell a big star due to his combination of mystery, horror and intrigue. Mitchell’s best work in TNA came with Abyss as his monster, similar to Paul Bearer and Kane.
2 2. Tammy Sytch and Chris Candido
Tammy Sytch and Chris Candido mixed business with pleasure when entering the wrestling industry. WWE signed them together and put them in The Bodydonnas gimmick with Sytch as Sunny and Candido as Skip. Sunny ascended to new heights as one of the most popular female performers in the business. Fans gravitated towards Sytch for her stunning beauty and strong personality. It sadly came at the expensive of Candido’s talent.
1 1. Paul Heyman and Cesaro
The worst case of a manager stealing the thunder of a talent is a recent case no one could have predicted. Cesaro appeared to be on the rise after turning face at WrestleMania XXX, leaving Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter before going on to win the first ever Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. The crowd erupted and showed optimism for a new star being born. Cesaro’s fortunes would change the following night.
Paul Heyman named Cesaro the latest “Paul Heyman Guy” on the Raw after WrestleMania. The pairing seemed perfect on paper but the major issue is it forced Cesaro to go back to the heel role and sacrifice his organic face turn. To make matters worse, Heyman had to cut promos every week about Brock Lesnar ending The Undertaker’s undefeated WrestleMania streak. Cesaro became a secondary wrestler to both Heyman’s personality and the ghost of Lesnar. The downward spiral began and Cesaro has yet to get back to this stage following the disaster.
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